MOSCOW, 31 Dec 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.
Thousands of American teachers are sounding the alarm: the reform of mathematics in California schools threatens to turn the “advanced” state into a reserve of losers. And in the case of subsequent implementation throughout the country, the reform will completely put an end to the United States as a scientific power, they say.
The poor quality of American school education in the formal and natural sciences (so-called STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and California in particular, has long been a byword. But what the authorities of the “Golden State” have planned to do with their own schools as part of the 800-page project “California Mathematics Framework” (CMF) is truly remarkable.
Black and Spanish-speaking students do not have excel in math, and this is extremely upsetting for them, the reformers say. So let’s dramatically simplify the program so that any student can learn it, move algebra to grade 9, and eliminate advanced courses for the supposedly gifted.
And at the same time, we will make mathematics socially fair, ridding it of white supremacy, the authors of CMF continue. This is when someone mistakenly thinks that an arithmetic problem has only one correct answer, that it needs to be solved independently, or that the content of the lesson is determined by the teacher, not the students.
“What are you doing?” the professor groans in response and scribbles open letters, predicting America’s irreparable lag in science. So far, this resistance in California has only been enough to slow down the reform: its fate will be finally decided in May 2022.
However, under the gun of “progressives” who promote their “transformations” with the money of misanthropes, there is more than one mathematics. It seems that they really set out to throw the United States, and with it the whole of humanity, into the New Middle Ages — with the total illiteracy of the stricken lower classes and the limitless possibilities of the new super elite.
“You are creating injustice!”
There are two open letters from American teachers of exact sciences who are concerned about the reformers’ plans. One was drawn up back in July 2021 — today there are 1,210 signatures under it. The second one appeared in early December and managed to gather 1,470 signatories. The letters criticise the reform from different positions, so it is worth reading both of them.
Let’s start with the second, more “mathematically oriented” letter.
California’s CMF reform, say its authors, is aimed at reducing the gap in student achievement. But in what way? Due to the cancellation of advanced math courses in the entire secondary school — such as the “Russian Mathematical School”, for example. The goal is laudable, but the tool is no good, the teachers add: you will simply make life more difficult for children from poor families entering colleges for STEM subjects. It will be difficult for them to catch up, especially in competition with applicants from abroad.
In addition, you plan to drastically reduce your algebra and math analysis hours in favour of a “fairer” “data science.” What is it all about? Apparently, her classes will include Excel spreadsheets, which will become obsolete before college ends. But the current challenges facing mathematicians, as they did centuries ago, require knowledge of algebra, not Excel.
And in general, it is enough to cut children’s hair under one comb, the professors urge. Schools should have different math programs that target different students, so that the best of them can reach their full potential. Otherwise, you will increase inequality, not reduce it – especially when compared to private school students.
The authors of the earlier letter go further in their reasoning.
You are building a “brave new world” based on a dubious ideology, they appeal to CMF reformers. You suggest delving into environmental issues in math classes, developing students’ political consciousness, and telling them about the contribution of “historically marginalised people” – read non-whites – to science.
You directly reject the idea of a natural gift and do not believe in the talents of children. You are trying to eliminate injustice in mathematics, but in reality you are only insulting children with non-white skin colour. After all, they, in your opinion, do not have any aptitude for exact sciences – that’s why they don’t need courses! In general, please pull back.
“White people worship the written word”
Some people may think that the signatories are going too far. Such students should check out one of the programs mentioned in the CMF – it is called “A pathway to equitable math instruction”. Its authors explicitly call mathematics a racist science and demand that it be “de-colonised”.
Especially striking are the ways in which “white supremacy in mathematics” is shown there. These “examples of racism” should be listed in full. So:
1. Perfectionism – when a mistake in solving a problem is considered a problem, not an opportunity.
2. Sense of Urgency – the teacher tries to teach all the material, but there is no time for distractions in the lesson.
3. Defensiveness – the position of lagging students is not taken into account.
4. Quantity Over Quality – the teacher bombards the class with tasks instead of discussing the feelings that arise from them.
5. Worship of the Written Word – only an approved program, written text, or published book is valued.
6. Paternalism – the teacher decides for themselves what to learn in class, or thinks that they have the right to correct students’ mistakes.
7. Either/Or Thinking – if a student doesn’t get good grades, then they’re not a good student.
8. Power Hoarding – The teacher requires students to raise their hand before answering.
9. Fear of Open Conflict – correct answers are taken into account, false answers are rejected.
10. Individualism – a mathematical example should be solved independently, not collectively.
11. Only One Right Way – the problem has only one correct solution.
12. Progress is Bigger, More – the more examples a student can solve, the better.
13. Objectivity – the belief in the objectivity of mathematical formulas, the study of a subject from simple to complex.
14. Right to Comfort – the teacher is not in the position of a student, is not ready to plunge into political problems.
The presented “list of sins” almost unchanged wanders from manual to manual, dedicated to the “eradication of white supremacy” in various areas of American life. The fundamental novelty is that it is almost the first time applied to mathematics.
All this toxic mess, according to the “innovators”, should be a thing of the past. Just like, for example, the pronouns “he” and” she ” in tasks — you should use the gender-inclusive “they” instead, even if the singular is implied. And fifth graders will be able to solve puzzles about a 10-year-old transgender girl…
A lesson in disobedience
It remains to add that the program “A pathway to equitable math instruction” is promoted by the NGO Education Trust-West, whose parent company is headed by John King Jr., Secretary of Education in the cabinet of Barack Obama. The program is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The one that invests in patents for seeds and synthetic food, creates larval feed and artificial breast milk, and allocates hundreds of millions for covid tests and vaccines.
It looks as if Bill Gates, a proponent of a planned reduction in the world’s population, is ready to go to this goal not only through the development of vaccinations or the monopolisation of food chains, but also through the total destruction of school education – even in the United States.
Someone may say: yes, it burns with a clear flame, this America! If Americans are so happy to lose $125 million worth of space satellites, the lives of their soldiers in the Middle East, and between 7,000 and 9,000 annual patients who take incorrectly calculated doses of medication to simple arithmetic errors, then who is to blame?
The trouble is, however, that this “mathematical experiment” will not stop there. Sooner or later, they will try to hold it in Russia as well, in order to free the losers from the “toxicity” of fundamental education and the “superiority” of teachers. And then we will read in the manuals of the “reformers” familiar recipes – about excessive paternalism, off-scale perfectionism and excessive worship of the written word…